Adobe Photoshop CC

Path selection and editing

Select single or multiple objects or paths for quick editing. (Try it, 8 min)

FromKendall Plant

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Get files Sample files to practice with (ZIP, 1.2 MB)

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Step 1 of 8

Using the Path Selection Tool

In this tutorial, you will adjust several shape and path layers.

Open the downloaded file in Photoshop. Select the Path Selection Tool from the toolbar (A key). If you don't see the toolbar, go to Windows > Tools.

In the options menu at the top of your workspace, select "All Layers" from the Select drop-down menu. This option allows you to select any shape or path on the canvas, even if the layer is not active.

Step 2 of 8

Select a single shape or path

To edit a single shape or path with the "All Layers" option selected (Step 1), simply click a shape or path. In this document, click the orange rectangle at the bottom of the image (as shown in the illustration).

Notice that the shape path becomes visible, indicating that you have selected the path. In the Layers panel, the shape layer for the orange rectangle, the "Footer" layer, appears in blue, indicating that the layer is active. If you don't see the Layers panel, go to Windows > Layers.

Step 3 of 8

Select a single shape or path (continued)

With the orange rectangle at the bottom of image selected, click and drag the selection to align it with the bottom of the canvas.

To deselect the shape, click the canvas outside of your selected shape. The shape paths around the orange rectangle disappear, indicating that your selection of the shape, and its layer, is no longer active.

Step 4 of 8

Select multiple shapes or paths

With the "All Layers" Select option enabled, you can select multiple paths or shapes on different layers.

With the Path Selection Tool, click and drag a rectangular bounding box around the ellipse and bike shapes on the flyer. Any shapes or paths within that area become active. Notice that the shape paths become visible, indicating your selection paths for the ellipse and bike.

Step 5 of 8

Select multiple shapes or paths (continued)

Once you've selected the ellipse and bike shape paths, click and drag the selection to the center of the image.

To deselect the shapes, click the canvas outside of the selection.

Step 6 of 8

Isolating shapes or paths

When an image has many layers, sometimes it's helpful to isolate only the shapes or paths you want to edit. Let's isolate the paths that make up the bike. In the Layers panel, click to select the "bike seat" layer. Click Shift and select the "front spokes" layer in the Layer panel. This selects the two layers and all the layers in between them. Now you have made all of the bike shape layers active.

In the options bar at the top of the workspace, select "Active Layers" from the Select drop-down menu. This constrains the Path Selection Tool so that it only works on active layers.

Step 7 of 8

Isolating shapes or paths (continued)

With the Path Selection Tool, click and drag to select the back tire and spokes of the bike. Notice that the path selection does not include the cream-colored ellipse shape behind the bike, since only the bike shapes layers are active. With the back tire and spokes of the bike selected, click and drag the selected paths to align with the back of the bike frame.

Tip: Zoom in to help align the shapes by pressing Command or Control and "+" on your keyboard. Zoom out by pressing Command or Control and "–".

Step 8 of 8

Experiment

Use the shapes in the image to practice different ways of selecting shape paths. Remember that you can toggle between "All Layers" and "Active Layers" options in the Selection menu at the top of your workspace.

Select multiple paths by pressing Shift while clicking to select different layers, shapes, and paths. You can select the "All Layers" option in the Selection drop-down menu to select paths in this way.

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